The architectural firm Agarwal & Agarwal started in Kolkata in 1986 and since then has completed more than 400 projects of variety of scale and nature across the country. Founder & Principal Architect J.P Agarwal briefs Buildotech on the latest trends in façade design and about some of his recent projects.
With Indian construction industry adopting latest technologies and international design trends, the building design too has seen changes in terms of the material choices and techniques especially for the exteriors.
Integration of sustainability in design is the focus of architects today. In a country like India where nine months in a year, most parts experience hot summers designing facades, which can resist heat gain from outdoors is critical. To address the same, designers are now opting for facades with overhangs and other shading devices according to the climatic conditions of the region. In addition, as energy-efficiency is going to be the norm of tomorrow, not surprisingly, software for designing orientation of the building and energy modelling software have become essential tools in the planning of a project.
From plastered buildings to stone cladding and then to steel and glass façade, the designers are now moving towards elements which are environment friendly and add to the sustainability of the building during its entire life cycle. Not only in India but globally the designers are breaking away from the conventional transparent glazing and opting for heat reflecting glass and other advanced glazing systems that can lower thermal loads of the building.
Also, in vogue are architectural features like metal louver and aluminium jaali panels installed in front of a glass façade to protect it from direct exposure to light and heat gain. Sometimes designed as dynamic facades, the automated metal louvers respond to the sunlight requirement and help minimize both lighting and HVAC loads.
Another new development is the increasing use of novel materials that can offer weather protection to the exterior surface as well as provide thermal insulation such as weatherboards, reconstituted hardwood, fibre reinforced plastic (FRP) and Wood-plastic composites (WPCs).These materials are generally made from recycled material and are weather proof & eco-sensitive.
Challenges & Adaptations
With globalization, there has been a growing interaction between Indian and international professionals with exchange of knowledge and technology. Indian architects are not only adopting international trends but also are adding value to them to adapt to local conditions. The end users too are open to adopting new materials and systems however, the right skills for construction and application of new materials and systems remain a challenge in Indian building industry. For specialized facades, we need more trained workers for installation as well as maintenance and cleaning operations.
The under construction Martin Burn Business Park is amongst the tallest commercial buildings of Kolkata, with almost 78 metres in height. The Century Ply ‘Exteria’ range of laminates has been used in façade cladding for the five levels of floors of car parking area to enhance functionality and style.
At Merlin Infinite commercial complex in Kolkata, the exterior of the super structure 18 storey high is a combination of glass and metal, embellished with Century Ply exterior grade laminates in projection façade at the front facia of the building. This gives the building a fresh and durable look that will last a long time.